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Submitting Drivers For The Linux Kernel
This document is intended to explain how to submit device drivers to the
various kernel trees. Note that if you are interested in video card drivers
you should probably talk to XFree86 ( and/or X.Org
( instead.
Also read the Documentation/SubmittingPatches document.
Allocating Device Numbers
Major and minor numbers for block and character devices are allocated
by the Linux assigned name and number authority (currently better
known as H Peter Anvin). The site is This
also deals with allocating numbers for devices that are not going to
be submitted to the mainstream kernel.
If you don't use assigned numbers then when you device is submitted it will
get given an assigned number even if that is different from values you may
have shipped to customers before.
Who To Submit Drivers To
Linux 2.0:
No new drivers are accepted for this kernel tree
Linux 2.2:
If the code area has a general maintainer then please submit it to
the maintainer listed in MAINTAINERS in the kernel file. If the
maintainer does not respond or you cannot find the appropriate
maintainer then please contact Alan Cox <>
Linux 2.4:
The same rules apply as 2.2. The final contact point for Linux 2.4
submissions is Marcelo Tosatti <>.
Linux 2.6:
The same rules apply as 2.4 except that you should follow linux-kernel
to track changes in API's. The final contact point for Linux 2.6
submissions is Andrew Morton <>.
What Criteria Determine Acceptance
Licensing: The code must be released to us under the
GNU General Public License. We don't insist on any kind
of exclusively GPL licensing, and if you wish the driver
to be useful to other communities such as BSD you may well
wish to release under multiple licenses.
Copyright: The copyright owner must agree to use of GPL.
It's best if the submitter and copyright owner
are the same person/entity. If not, the name of
the person/entity authorizing use of GPL should be
listed in case it's necessary to verify the will of
the copright owner.
Interfaces: If your driver uses existing interfaces and behaves like
other drivers in the same class it will be much more likely
to be accepted than if it invents gratuitous new ones.
If you need to implement a common API over Linux and NT
drivers do it in userspace.
Code: Please use the Linux style of code formatting as documented
in Documentation/CodingStyle. If you have sections of code
that need to be in other formats, for example because they
are shared with a windows driver kit and you want to
maintain them just once separate them out nicely and note
this fact.
Portability: Pointers are not always 32bits, not all computers are little
endian, people do not all have floating point and you
shouldn't use inline x86 assembler in your driver without
careful thought. Pure x86 drivers generally are not popular.
If you only have x86 hardware it is hard to test portability
but it is easy to make sure the code can easily be made
Clarity: It helps if anyone can see how to fix the driver. It helps
you because you get patches not bug reports. If you submit a
driver that intentionally obfuscates how the hardware works
it will go in the bitbucket.
Control: In general if there is active maintainance of a driver by
the author then patches will be redirected to them unless
they are totally obvious and without need of checking.
If you want to be the contact and update point for the
driver it is a good idea to state this in the comments,
and include an entry in MAINTAINERS for your driver.
What Criteria Do Not Determine Acceptance
Vendor: Being the hardware vendor and maintaining the driver is
often a good thing. If there is a stable working driver from
other people already in the tree don't expect 'we are the
vendor' to get your driver chosen. Ideally work with the
existing driver author to build a single perfect driver.
Author: It doesn't matter if a large Linux company wrote the driver,
or you did. Nobody has any special access to the kernel
tree. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn't telling the
whole story.
Linux kernel master tree:
?? == your country code, such as "us", "uk", "fr", etc.
Linux kernel mailing list:
[mail to subscribe]
Linux Device Drivers, Third Edition (covers 2.6.10): (free version)
Kernel traffic:
Weekly summary of kernel list activity (much easier to read)
Weekly summary of kernel development activity -
2.6 API changes:
Porting drivers from prior kernels to 2.6:
Occasional Linux kernel articles and developer interviews
Documentation and assistance for new kernel programmers
Linux USB project: